Projections - Movie Reviews

Committed Committed

It's hard to stay fixed on Committed for the majority of its running time, despite an arguably mature effort from Heather Graham who takes center stage in Lisa Krueger's struggling romantic comedy that comes across with much less verve and spontaneity than her strangely appealing 1996 debut feature, Manny & Lo.

The main virtue of a pretty woman out in Texas to teach her erring husband the principles of loyalty in a marriage in Graham's tenacity to break out of her screen persona as a model.  Mainstream audiences know her from her recent work in The Spy Who Shagged Me, opposite Mike Myers, and in Bowfinger opposite Eddie Murphy and Steve Martin.  Yet, her best work has been in less popular films, Drugstore Cowboy and Boogie Nights.

It seems reasonable that Graham's Jolie believes like most of us that marriage is forever, so a terse note from drippy husband Carl (Luke Wilson) surprises her, and it feels weird considering the allure Graham invites.

But the New Yorker doesn't stay down very long and takes a trip down to El Paso to set Carl straight on the understanding of being committed.

Down in the deep Southwest that emanates Krueger's concept of a pursuit for an everlasting love, El Paso has a mystical aura as stalking is prominent in this contemporary, almost mythological comedy.

From her car and with her tattooed, flirtatious brother from New York, Jay, endowed with quirky snap and devoting by Casey Affleck, Jolie follows Carl not knowing he's attached to the sexy Carmen, played with Latino spice by Patricia Velasquez.

Her new life in the desert bemuses the locals and it opens up the prickly side of a woman who's more than a yellow rose to most on lookers in the wilderness.

With its focus on faith and marriage, the latter being an ideal situation to examine values, the early portions of Committed develops interest.  And that's helped by the addition of two men in Jolie's life in the Tex/Mex surroundings.  Neil, a good looking Goran Visnjic, is a neighbor of Carl's who becomes attracted to Jolie, and he makes her take a look at her radical perceptions of commitment.  Also, film maker Alfonso Arau (A Walk In The Clouds) is diverting as spiritual confidante and Mexican doctor.

Krueger's script obviously needed some honing, especially around its midpoint, where things get stale in a hurry, and Jolie's eccentric ways become disenchanting, to say the least.  The outcome makes sense from the emotional problems that Krueger addresses, but Graham, even with her embodiment of naivety and toughness, has difficulty modulating within the circumstances of fidelity.

Yet, this dream spoof of the southwest that invokes Shakespeare is only high spirited in its colorful shots and supporting cast, with Graham committed to making director and audience aware that she's willing to veer off into new land.


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